FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (August 27, 2015) -- The Fort Leonard Wood community celebrated the achievements of women Tuesday at the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood Women's Equality Day Luncheon.

The event, hosted by the 14th Military Police Brigade, featured State Sen. Shalonn "Kiki" Curls, Missouri District 9.

Col. Niave Knell, 14th MP Brigade commander, introduced Curls and used the opportunity to celebrate recent achievements for women in the Army.

"Last week was a big week for women in the military, with the graduation of two women from Ranger school," Knell said. "That is a great individual achievement, but also one that has a long history leading up to it, (including)the right to vote, which started women on the path to equality."

Knell said it is important to keep in mind that the women's suffrage movement and other equality issues have been achieved through numerous channels, including the legislative process.

"Legislation is that common thread we see throughout to make sure this country has equal opportunity for all," Knell said, as she introduced Curls, an active participant in the Missouri legislative process, to the audience.

Curls said she was honored to speak to service members about the achievements of women and "hard-fought" rights women have achieved throughout history.

"More often than not, it seems as if the quest for equality pits men against women, pointing fingers and placing blame, rather than highlighting the benefits of a society in which men and women are given the same opportunities to reach their full potential," Curls said.

As a lawmaker, Curls said she recognizes special value in a quote by suffrage pioneer, Susan B. Anthony. Anthony said, "There never will be complete equality until women themselves help to make laws and elect lawmakers."

Curls said as women worked for equality, World War I was a turning point for women seeking the right to vote in the U.S.

"In World War I, women stepped up and kept this nation running. In doing so, they changed the hearts and minds of the nation. By the end of the war, America could no longer ignore the immense contributions women had made, nor could they deny their unfailing patriotism."

On Sept. 30, 1918, President Woodrow Wilson recognized the contributions of women during the war effort and in 1920 the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote, passed.

Curls said since that time, women have quickly made gains in history.

"I cannot help but think (the early pioneers of the women's equality movement) would be incredibly proud of all we have achieved. Women have more than made up for lost time," Curls said.

"We are stronger when we work together," she said. "We must never give up fighting for equality, not just women's equality, but equality for all." because we are all human."